According to a new study, a part of a protein in human breast milk could be used to kill a certain type of drug-resistant bacteria.
A team of scientists in the UK said that the Lactoferrin, which is found in human breast milk, can kill bacteria, fungi and even viruses on contact. The study by the National Physical Laboratory and University College London found that it can be used to kill bacteria and the discovery has raised hopes that it can become a new tool to fight issue of antibiotic resistance.
Some researchers also believe that the protein can be used to treat diseases such as sickle-cell disease that were incurable earlier. The researchers found that the fragment, which is less than a nanometre in width, is responsible for giving anti-microbial properties to the protein. The re-engineered the fragmentinto a virus-like capsule that can recognise and target specific bacteria and also damage these bacteria on contact without impact any healthy cells.
They also said that this makes breast milk an important tool in protecting new born babies from diseases in their first months of life.
Hasan Alkassem, a student who worked on the project, said, "To monitor the activity of the capsules in real time we developed a high-speed measurement platform using atomic force microscopy. The challenge was not just to see the capsules, but to follow their attack on bacterial membranes. The result was striking: the capsules acted as projectiles porating the membranes with bullet speed and efficiency."